Posted by: atowhee | February 12, 2016


Wisdom, the 65 year old (or more) female albatross on Midway, has given birth to another chick!

Posted by: atowhee | February 12, 2016


Pygmy-Owls.  Often heard, seldom seen.  Ventriloquists.  Deadly hunters.  Smallest owl in Oregon.  Daytime hunter, scourge of Juncos everywhere.  Sometimes shadowy, sometimes skittish, sometimes just not there.  Today our Winter Wings Owl Prowl struck the right note during the right singalong to create an owlishly perfect sonata.  While watching two Dippers beneath the Hwy 87 Bridge at Collier State Park, our birding group was happily stunned to find a Pygmy-Ow just upstream, sitting in perfect winter sunlight.  We on the south shore of Spring Creek, owl on the north, sun behind us.  A video crew with us was thrilled.  Co-leader, Kevin Spencer, and I both agreed we’d never seen a Pygmy-Owl sit so prominently in sunlight for so long.  Several five-minute intervals elapsed.  Even I got priceless photos as we kept moving close and closer and the owl remained comfortable on the other side of a not-very-wide stream, thirty feet maybe.  Enjoy:NPO-FAR (1280x960) NPO--LESS FAR (1280x960)NPO--LESS FAR (1280x960)NPO-NEARER (1280x960)NPO-CLOSER (1280x960)I give this little guy high marks in the contest for Owl of the Year.  Whatta guy.  NPO CLOSE-AWAY (1280x960) NPO CLOSE-FACING (1280x960) NPO LOOKS DOWN (1280x960)Owl prowlers getting big looks at pygmy. NPO WATCHERS (1280x960)


Underneath the bridge was a pair of Dippers, already working on their nest…and using an old Cliff Swallow nest as the foundation for their own nest!  It was very dark under the bridge so the images are not very good:DPPR NESTIN (1280x960)I presume it is the Dippers who’ve opened the large gap in the swallow nest’s outer wall.DIPPAIR DIPP-ROK


In spring Klamath Marsh is a good spot for Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Sora and the elusive Yellow Rail, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat.  In winter it is mostly large birds: Canada Geese already nesting despite winter cold, Rough-legged and Ferruginous Hawks, Red-tails, Ravens galore, Bald Eagles.RLH KMRSH4 (1280x960)There were several Rough-legged Hawks on the frozen marsh. RLH-K-MRSH1 (1280x960) RLH-KMRSH2 (1280x960) RLH-KMRSH3 (1280x960) RLH-KMRSH5 (1280x960) RLH-KMRSH6 (1280x960)Here’s what the scenery was like:kmarsh wideHere is the video crew’s drone scanning the landscape and capturing aerial images…drone is about 18 inches in diameter:DRONE (1280x960)beagClark’s Nutcracker jawing at us while we stood on packed snow, seeking owls at dawn. C-NUT LOUD (1280x960)Red-breasted Nuthatch in perch of control. RBN RULES (1280x960)We heard owls at dawn, Pymgy and Great Horned.  What we saw was the bright beginning of a new day. sunrise1 sunrise2Klamath Marsh NWR, Klamath, Oregon, US
Feb 11, 2016 3:45 PM – 10:45 PM
Protocol: Traveling.  14 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  X
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  X
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  X
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)  X
Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)  1
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)  1
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  3
Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma)  2
Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)  1
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)  3     hunting along marsh causeway
Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)  1
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  1
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  X

Klamath Marsh NWR, Klamath, Oregon, US
Feb 12, 2016 6:00 AM – 9:15 AM.  17 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  X
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)  X
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  1
Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma)  1
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)  1
Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)  X
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  X
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  1
Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)  1
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  X
Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)  X
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  X
Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  2

Collier Memorial SP, Klamath, Oregon, US
Feb 11, 2016 3:15 PM – 3:30 PM.  4 species

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  X
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  X
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Collier Memorial SP, Klamath, Oregon, US
Feb 12, 2016 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM.  3 species

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  4
Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma)  1
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)  2     building nest under HWY 97 bridge using old Cliff Swallow nest walls

Posted by: atowhee | February 12, 2016


Here is statement from yesterday from FBI (sorry, I was out chasing owls at Winter Wings):

Statement by FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing on the Situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
FBI – Oregon – 02/11/16 2:02 PM

This morning the FBI took into custody the four remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge without incident and without shots fired. Rev. Franklin Graham and Michele Fiore were at the checkpoint to meet the occupiers as they left their encampment.

As we have said since day one, our goal has been to end this illegal occupation peacefully, and we are grateful that we were able to do so today. I want to make it very clear that we will continue to enforce the law with respect to the refuge and other federal properties. Anyone who chooses to travel to Oregon with the intent of engaging in illegal activity will be arrested. Saying that, I want to reassure those Harney County residents who simply visited the refuge or provided food to the occupiers — we are not looking into those events. We are concerned about those who have criminal, violent intent.

While the occupation is over, there is still quite a bit of work that needs to happen before the refuge can re-open to the public. I want to run through some of that with you now.

Next Steps

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge remains closed, and it will remain closed for some number of weeks. During this time, law enforcement will continue to man checkpoints at the edge of the refuge to maintain the security of this crime scene.

Most immediately, FBI agents are inspecting and securing the buildings and any other areas of concern on the refuge to ensure that no one else is hiding. This process will take some number of hours.

Following that tactical clearing of the refuge, a team of FBI Special Agent Bomb Technicians, detectives with the Oregon State Police Arson/Explosives Unit, and bomb technicians from the Portland Police Bureau and Oregon Air National Guard will methodically work their way through the property to locate and mitigate any explosive-related hazards. This process could take several days.

Once the refuge is cleared of any hazards, the FBI’s Evidence Response Teams (ERT) will enter to document and collect evidence related to potential crimes committed during the occupation. In addition, FBI forensic examiners from the Northwest Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory will work to recover and process computers and electronic devices. It will likely be several weeks before the evidence teams complete their work on the refuge, and it will likely be a number of months before the forensic examiners complete their analysis.

At the same time, the FBI is deploying experts with its Art Crime Team to work on the refuge. These agents are specially-trained in cultural property investigations. They will be responsible for working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Burns Paiute Tribe to identify and document damage to the tribe’s artifacts and sacred burial grounds.

They will start with an archeological field assessment to determine any potential violations of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Protection Act (NAGPRA) and the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). This work will likely take a number of weeks to complete.

As the FBI works through each of these investigative processes, we will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as to how and when we will be able to return control of the refuge to that agency.”

It is still not known how widely the investigation will have to range and whether much of the refuge’s open space will accessible for birders soon or…not soon.

Posted by: atowhee | February 11, 2016


I’m in Klamath for the annual Winter Wings Festival.  This morning I made quick circuit of some of the roads winding through Running Y housing and golf course. Then dropped down to Veterans Park in town for some goldeneye viewing.BG STANDUPThis fellow was at Veterans Park in K-Falls.


Running Y Ranch, Klamath, Oregon, US
Feb 11, 2016 9:45 AM – 10:30 AM
22 species (+1 other taxa)

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)  1200
California Quail (Callipepla californica)  X
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  X
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  2
Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)  6
Oak/Juniper Titmouse (Plain Titmouse) (Baeolophus inornatus/ridgwayi)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea)  8
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  30
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  X
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  1

Posted by: atowhee | February 10, 2016


Four woodpecker species and a sublime sunset reflected by the Cascades.  Mt. McLaughlin is named for the Hudson’s Bay factotum but today it outshone its big volcanic cousin, Mt. Shasta.  First the birds:flkr-agt (1280x960)Flicker shunning the camera.  Lewis’s Woodpeckers: lewo-closr (1280x960) lewo-dark (1280x960)One of the Red-winged Blackbird flocks near the lake: rwb flock (1280x960)Cooper’s Hawk.  I blame him for making most of the songbirds vanish from my bakDown onthe Klamath River in California, mergansers, river otters:come klmth2 (1280x960)  ottr2-klmth (1280x960) ottr3-goes ottr-klmth (1280x960)


Yesterday I suggested that Mt. Shasta is a volcano diva, demanding and getting her own special weather systems.  And on the face of it, she should be far more spectacular than Mt. Laughlin her northerly cousin.  MML is only 2/3 as high as Shasta.  But its near perfect conicality, now snow-covered, makes it appear starkly, brilliantly outstanding against sky and low-lying dark foothills.  Herewith an imagery face-off.  Shasta first:

shsta-diva1 shsta-diva2 xshsta-wide

McLaughlin:mml-1 mml-2 mnt1 (1280x960)mnt3 (1280x960) mtn2 (1280x960) mtn4 (1280x960) mtn5 (1280x960)mtn7 (1280x960) mtn8 (1280x960) mtn9 (1280x960) mtn10 (1280x960)mtn11 (1280x960) mtn12 (1280x960) mtn13 (1280x960) mtn14 (1280x960) mtn15 (1280x960) mtn16 (1280x960)By this time the sun has long been down behind the Siskiyous to the west, only indirect sunlight is reflected off the clouded sky and pierces through holes to brighten some parts of the mountain.  All the fishermen are gone. Parking lots are empty.  There are no boats nor ducks on the water, the latter all tucked in the for the night.  Even the Red-wings have now fallen silent.  Stillness and calm rest lightly on the serene scene.  No breeze riffles the water, and then three coots paddle gently through the reflected place image of the volcano, trailing thin wake lines like a fingernail across dark sand.  Then they too disappear into the dark water beyond…and nothing moves. mtn17 (1280x960)

Agate Lake, Jackson, Oregon, US
Feb 10, 2016 3:30 PM – 5:20 PM.  22 species

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)  2     overflight
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  9
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  3
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  7
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  4
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
American Coot (Fulica americana)  50
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  11
Lewis’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)  2
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  2
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  3
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  1
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  X
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  120

Posted by: atowhee | February 10, 2016


Cliven Bundy, father of the Bundy Bros. now joins his sons in prison. He was arrested by the FBI when he landed at Portland Airport.  Couldn’t carry his guns onto an airplane.  How can the NRA let the evil government bans guns on planes?  Never know whan patriot might be called on to shoot his way into the cockpit.

There is some comments from the four occupiers that they will leave tomorrow.  The word “surrender’ has not been specifically used by them.

One of the four besieged occupiers tried to escape through the FBI perimeter. Failed. Now the occupiers claim the FBI has closed in.

Here’s another version of what’s happened at Malheur this evening.


Occupiers giving mixed messages…will they or won’t they…?

Posted by: atowhee | February 10, 2016


En route to yesterday’s Wintu Audubon meeting in Redding, I had time for a quick stop at Ashland Pond which I haven’t birded in some months.  A good afternoon was happening, sun and active birds all around.  The coyotes were in a rodent-infested field south of Yreka.

The last two birds are Hutton’s Vireo that seemed to find me worth watching, and one of a pair of Oak Titmouses (-mice?).gcsp on brmbl (1280x960)male Golden-crowned Sparrow; shy Purple Finch. pufi hidesRing-necked Ducks on Ashland Pond. ring billsMt. Shasta, that volcanic diva, that bullies nature into giving her special weather systems reserved only for those who rise above the hoi polloi. shsta1 shsta2 shsta3

Ashland Pond, Jackson, Oregon, US
Feb 9, 2016 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM.  25 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  2
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  1
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  11
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)  1
Hutton’s Vireo (Vireo huttoni)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  5
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  3
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  1
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  6
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  1
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  1
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  6

Posted by: atowhee | February 10, 2016


Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) and his namesake woodpeckers are among my favorites.  Nuttall himself was one of the first naturalists to explore Oregon when it was still dominated by the Hudson’s Bay Company.  His woodpecker is largely confined to California and points south.nutt with ballJust as I was getting back into tyhe car he landed near the base of a cottonwood in a park along the Sacramento River Trail in Redding.  These birds like riparian forests in low elevation parts of California.  The species was named for Nuttall by his protege Dr. William Gambel (1821-1849) who first described the bird for science. nuttwoo upp1 (1280x960)Nuttall and another of his proteges, Dr. John Townsend, were the first naturalists to walk across the North American continent within the U.S.  They made numerous discoveries on that expedition in the 1830s when Oregon was still politically unclaimed and California was part of Mexico. Nuttall also visited Hawaii.

There was a lot of bird life along and in the Sacramento River on a warm winter evening:

buff threee buff trio cogo inrvrBufflehead and Common Goldeneye were the most evident ducks but there were a couple of Mallards and a small float of Common Mergansers.  Below we have male Common Goldeneye and female Barrow’s with her all-yellow beak.cogo paird corm and merg greg shoreA V of Herring Gulls over the river. GULLZ (1280x960)brdg1 brdg2 sunset-aTurkey Vulture low over the water. tv at rivrCormorants and mergansers on gravel bar.corm and mergMockingbird looks mockingly at clumsy biped.  This species would not have been seen this far north a century ago.  LIke the Hooded Oriole it has moved northwward, taking advantage of manmade habitats. mock stareA Nuttall to end on: P2630863 (1280x960)

Sacramento River Trail, Shasta County, California, US
Feb 9, 2016 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM.  21 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  2
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  X
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  X
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  X
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  X
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  X
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  X
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1
Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  X
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X

Posted by: atowhee | February 8, 2016


The four remaining occupiers admit their supplies are running low. Over the weekend they posted youtube videos showing their use of federal vehicles and urging an armed uprising by anti-federalist forces. Remember the Alamo, guys.

Here’s a lengthier summary of the videos’ content on youtube, lotsa braggodocio and threats spread around. Probably good fodder for an insanity defense when the time comes.  The occupiers have faith that they represent a major portion of the American population.  Not even Trump or Rush Limbaugh have shown up to support them…?

The mainstream media is out of steam and barely notices Malheur anymore, awaiting further bloodshed perhaps.  But “Discover” magazine has outlined the damage the occupation is doing to on-going science work and habitat maintenance at the refuge.

Why not let workers return if they want and given them armed escorts?  Would cost a lot less than trying to repair damage that will be done if the refuge is not ready for this year’s expected high run-off.  It is a wet winter in the Steen Mountain area.

JUst got this email from a fellow birder: “After the Narrows Store and RV park co-owner complained to the New York Times about being “misunderstood” by birders, here’s an update on what’s happening now.

Draw your own conclusions, make your own judgments and your own phone calls …

AMERICAS TRUE PATRIOTS are now based camped at the Narrows RV Park and we have 50 spots that are available with six acres for horses. Make your reservations and show up to make your stand. Be POLITE AND RESPECTFUL or you will be asked to leave. No hotheads needed! Only Patriots! We are making a stand righ here at the entrance and rally’s are planned for everyday until the Feds leave and this county is restored to the good American people of Harney county! Please contact Admin William Fisher through here or his page for more info. Or if you can help other ways than being able to make a physical appearance. Thank you Americas True Patriots.”  (source:  ATP FB page 02-08-16 4 hours ago).”

Sadly if you are birding the area, The Narrows has the only gas station between Burns and Frenchglen so it is hard to avoid giving them business.

Posted by: atowhee | February 8, 2016


The Winter Wings Festival is excited to announce that Noah Strycker will be attending the Festival with Leica Sport Optics and will be available to talk with the public about his recently completed Big Year in 2015.  He just finished travelling through 41 countries and recording 6,042 species of birds in a single calendar year—surpassing the previous record by more than 1,500 species.  That figure represents almost 60 percent of the known bird species on earth.


Noah’s blog, “Birding Without Borders,” chronicled his seven continent adventure, from his first stop in Antarctica to his last birding day in India.  The blog, species list, and supporting material can be found at:

Having just turned 30, Strycker has authored two books: “Among Penguins” and “The Thing With Feathers.” Leica Sport Optics invites Festival attendees to stop by their vendor booth during vending hours on Feb. 13th and 14th to meet Noah, get your book signed, discuss his favorite binoculars and talk to him about his really Big Year!

We can almost predict Noah will become the world’s most successful professional birder without ever having to lead a single field trip.  However, his endorsements will never quit match those of a Super Bowl quarterback.

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